Questions for Lisa Yockelson: Cutting Calories in Chocolate Desserts?

Lisa Yockelson has graciously been our guest expert this week on all things baking and chocolate. She is the author of many baking books, including the wonderfully rich and detailed ChocolateChocolate - an encyclopedic collection of recipes, tips, and techniques to enable your chocolate addiction.

Here is one last reader question for Lisa, on trying to have your chocolate cake and eat it too!

Q: Is there any realistic way to cut calories in chocolate desserts and not truly sacrifice the experience of eating? For example, is using half & half instead of cream when making ganache considered completely sacrilegious?

Following this line of thinking, what kind of alterations to you make to your recipes when health is a concern (diabetics, food allergies, etc)?

A: Calories! Oh my! I use butter, heavy cream--and the rest of the good stuff--without exception, believing that a well-conceived dessert that bakes correctly and tastes authentic is worth eating, even in a small portion.

While it is certainly not sacrilegious to make substitutions, what you end up with would probably result in a different texture, with variable results, so instead of cutting my 9-inch pan of brownies into 16 squares, you could certainly make 32 miniature squares and dredge them in a confectioners' sugar-cocoa mixture to make teeny trufflelike confections. Good ingredients--especially chocolate of all intensities and percentages--are expensive, so it's a good idea to use them at their fullest taste.

Having said that, a colleague of mine, Alice Medrich, wrote a wonderful book called CHOCOLATE AND THE ART OF LOW-FAT DESSERTS (Warner Books,1994); it is worth having if your chocolate baking takes you into the territory of juggling calories and great taste.

Regarding alterations to recipes: medical variations in my recipes are not offered.
- Lisa

(PS: I would not advise you to use half-and-half in your ganache--it would skew the finished texture [emulsion]).

Thank you Lisa!

(Image credits: ChocolateChocolate cover photo and author photo both by Ben Fink. Cover design by Vertigo Design, NYC.)

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